Print + Digital Reporting
The Daily Beast. | Web Story. | August 3, 2018.
Pop culture tells us one thing about eating disorders: It’s a ‘white girl’ disease.
From The Bachelor to Natalie Portman’s Nina in Black Swan to Lily Collins’ Ellen in To the Bone, eating disorders seem to only affect affluent white girls on screen. And, as Kim Kardashian showed earlier this week in a series of Instagram videos that received an instant backlash, being called "anorexic" is problematically deemed a compliment.
But eating disorders don't only affect white females, and the glorification of eating disorders is dangerous. Black girls and women suffer from eating disorders too, but advocates argue that teachers, doctors, faith leaders, and even therapists don’t always catch an eating disorder when a woman of color walks through the door.
That's what happened to Stephanie Covington Armstrong, author of Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat. "Everyone assumed all of the stereotypes: Black girls are more comfortable with our bodies. We like being heavier. We don't develop eating disorders," she told The Daily Beast. "So I could hide in plain sight."
Covington Armstrong's memoir follows her struggle with yo-yo dieting, orthorexia (an obsession with healthy food), starving, and bingeing. "It's like an addict sampling drugs: you do just a little here, a little there, and then eventually they're doing you," she said.
But it took her a long time to seek help.
PBS Next Avenue. | Web Story. | June 22, 2018.
At some point during her stay in the memory care wing of a large, long-term facility in Hamilton Township, N.J., Marie Tykarski started to complain of pain. Getting to the bottom of what happened — understanding how and why she got hurt — took time.
“My mother-in-law was in a state of dementia, so we couldn’t get answers from her,” said Rich Allegretti. “She couldn’t explain anything, except that she hurt.
“I don’t think she knew what hurt, but she knew that she was in severe pain,” he added. “She knew something was wrong, but she couldn’t describe it.”
The family eventually learned that Tykarski fractured her femur. Twice. In three weeks. She shattered the same leg at two fracture sites. Surgeons performed what’s called an open reduction internal fixation procedure, inserting plates and screws.
Craig Hubert, a partner at the law firm Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein & Blader, took on the case. In 2011, the firm filed a civil suit, alleging neglect. The case was later settled out of court.
“This was a mistake, and quite frankly, if there had been a video camera in that room, after the first fracture, the administration, the nurses and all of the caregivers would have learned from the improper transfer procedure,” Hubert said. He asserted that there’s “a substantial likelihood” that a camera would have prevented Tykarski’s second injury.
Center for Cooperative Media. | Web Story. | May 21, 2018.
In his keynote presentation at the 2018 Collaborative Journalism Summit, Grégoire Lemarchand, the deputy editor in chief and head of social networks at Agence France-Presse, spoke about how American journalists might use lessons learned from CrossCheck, a collaborative verification project, in preparation for this year’s midterm elections.
CrossCheck, a collaboration between 37 partners across France and the United Kingdom, focused on covering “false, misleading, and confusing claims that circulated online” in the 10 weeks before the 2017 French presidential election.
“Participants were under a common sense of public service,” Lemarchand said. In the weeks leading up to the election, he said, the French public’s trust in the media was very low — dangerously low. “There was really a global feeling that the threat of this disinformation is so big and serious that we have to work together. If we allow this information to spiral out of control, we will be left crying, as the public will no longer know what is true. If people cannot trust, then democracy can’t work.”
CrossCheck, which was launched by Jenni Sargent, the managing director of First Draft, wasn’t just limited to newsrooms — journalists were joined by teams at universities, nonprofits and tech companies. Google News Lab in Paris and Facebook gave financial and technical support to the project.
Center for Cooperative Media. | Web Story. | May 20, 2018.
After a quick round of wine, cheese and appetizers in the lobby of Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media building, the Collaborative Journalism Summit officially began with a keynote presentation and discussion about ethnic media.
After Keith Strudler, the director of the School of Communication and Media, and Stefanie Murray, the director of the Center for Cooperative Media, made introductory remarks, they welcomed opening keynote speaker Daniela Gerson, a senior fellow at the Democracy Fund and assistant professor at California State University Northridge.
Gerson’s talk was based on a series of research articles she and Carlos Rodriguez recently authored for the American Press Institute’s Strategy Studies: “How can mainstream and ethnic media team up to produce better journalism?” The series launched in October. A fourth installment is forthcoming.
Gerson began her talk by defining “ethnic media,” a term that, she emphasized, is “imperfect.” Other related terms include minority media, diaspora media or immigrant media, though none of these terms are universally accepted.
The Daily Beast. | Web Story. | April 5, 2018.
Try to recall a conversation without hearing it in your head. It’s difficult, because sound impacts our memory formation. That’s why we forget the milk at the store, and leave without the one thing we came for: we heard the instructions, but we didn’t really listen.
This cognitive capacity to keep sounds in mind for a short period of time was the focus of a paper published in Neuron by a team at McGill University’s Brain Imaging Centre. The studytested the efficacy of a non-invasive brain therapy called transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS. Using a hand-held device placed against the scalp, the researchers positioned the targeted, oscillating pulses (at 5 Hz) into the brain in order to stimulate nerve cells. (The pulses are reportedly not painful.)
The group found some surprising results. TMS seemed to directly improve the working memory of 17 participants in a recall task. Participants were asked to recognize a melody when the order of notes played back was reversed. After TMS treatment, they were able to remember the series of sounds quicker, and more accurately.
The Daily Beast. | Web Story. | February 5, 2018.
Imagine sitting next to a bored stranger fidgeting with a pen. The room is silent, except for that pen. Quiet amplifies—it makes everything sound louder. Yet for people who suffer from misophonia, every tap of that pen is louder than a chisel removing tile. The man on the train breathes with more force than a motorcycle. And that co-worker chews gum as if she were a cow in front of a microphone.
Misophonia—an emotional, decreased tolerance to sound—can make some situations feel uncomfortable, or even unbearable: anger, disgust, anxiety, avoidance. But the first trial for the condition, published recently in the Journal of Affective Disorders, claims to have found an effective treatment: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
“Despite the high burden of this condition, to date there is no evidence-based treatment available,” first author Arjan Schröder wrote in the abstract. Schröder and a team of Dutch researchers treated 90 patients with CBT for eight group sessions, every other week, and found that CBT was effective for half of the patients. What’s more, patients who had more severe symptoms were more likely to respond to treatment.
The Daily Beast. | Web Story. | January 16, 2018.
If you say that you’re allergic to penicillin—a narrow-spectrum antibiotic that, for many bacterial infections, is still considered to be a “wonder drug”—your doctor won’t prescribe it. Once you write it on those forms in the waiting room, or tell your pharmacist, “penicillin allergy” becomes part of your permanent medical record.
Yet a growing body of evidence suggests that most people who say they’re allergic to penicillin are, well, wrong. In a recent study published in Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, nearly 90 percent of patients who had “penicillin allergy” listed on their medical charts were found to actually have no such allergy at all.
“There’s this problem—what you could consider an epidemic—of people labeled with unverified penicillin allergy. It’s the number one drug allergy that’s listed in patients’ records,” Dr. Dave Khan, a professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and co-author of the study, told The Daily Beast. Over 1 in 10—up to 15 percent—of Americans has a reported penicillin allergy. That’s more than the number of adults in the U.S. who have hay fever (7.8 percent), and the number of children under age three who have food allergies (8.0 percent).
The Daily Beast. | Web Story. | December 24, 2017.
Shortly after five o’clock on a Sunday evening in February 2013, a severe EF4 tornado ripped through Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Winds whirling up to 170 mph tore through town, warping what seemed solid and upending the community. A church’s steeple was ripped off, along with roof after roof on main street. A vehicle parked near the baseball stadium was taken up by the twister and spit out near the pitching mound in the middle of the field, according to the storm report.
“I remember thinking, 'I can see my grandma’s house,'” he recalled. “'But an ambulance can’t get out there!'”
That his grandmother was remote and isolated from emergency help ignited worry within Subbarao, an osteopathic physician specializing in emergency care.
So he began tinkering with a solution: an aerial ambulance that could fly above the chaos on the ground, with live-saving medical supplies in tow.
Princeton EQuad News. | Web Story. | October 25, 2017.
Yi Wang believes in building from the ground up — and across great distances.
A computer scientist turned education app entrepreneur, Wang is, at heart, a connector: he learns the inside of a network, and makes it stronger. As a graduate student in computer science at Princeton, he found solutions to route information faster and more efficiently through the Internet. As a product manager at Google, he worked to improve the infrastructure of ‘the cloud.’ And he holds a patent for virtual router migration.
Wang’s new venture, an artificial intelligence-based English language learning app called Liulishuo, is built on this principle of connection. Available in the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store, Liulishuo has over 50 million registered users, making it one of the most popular language learning apps in China.
“We have built the world’s largest speech corpus of Chinese people speaking English,” said Wang, who earned his Ph.D. in computer science at Princeton in 2009, during a recent visit to Princeton from Shanghai, where he’s now based. “On top of this valuable data set, we were able to build the world’s most advanced speech assessment engine for English language learners.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | September 18, 2017.
Hundreds of candles were lit as more than 100 colleagues, family, and friends gathered in East Pyne courtyard Sept. 15 for a vigil to support a Princeton graduate student imprisoned in Iran.
Xiyue Wang, a fifth-year graduate student in history, is serving a 10-year prison term after his conviction on two counts of espionage. He was arrested by Iranian authorities in the summer of 2016 as he was completing archival research in Tehran for his dissertation on Eurasian history and has been in custody since then. The University has said that the charges against Wang are “completely false.”
Wang’s wife, Hua Qu, told of how she has dealt with the circumstances, day by day. “During the ups and downs of the past year, my hopes for Xi’s release have been shattered time and time again. Every time I think about him, I have stopped imagining how he spends his days, and how long the next 10 years may mean to my family,” she said. “My husband’s health is deteriorating fast.”
Wang, 36, is a naturalized American citizen who was born in Beijing. Qu, an attorney who works in Manhattan, and their 4-year-old son are Chinese citizens.
Princeton EQuad News. | Web Story. | September 11, 2017.
Turbulence jostles a rough flight, mixes rivulets in a stream, billows smoke into mysterious swirls. Though ubiquitous in nature and technology, these chaotic movements of fluids have defied thorough scientific description for centuries.
The late Sin-I Cheng, a long-time professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, studied turbulence with a patient passion. As a researcher who specialized in fluid dynamics, Cheng was fueled by this phenomenon of disruption. He brought clarity and rigor to the irregular and chaotic, always working and re-working toward a deeper understanding.
His first focus was instability of flight. As the United States entered the space race in the 1950s, Cheng pioneered the math that gave engineers the assurance that the burning of fuel would propel – not explode – a rocket. But his lifelong quest was much broader: to find an analytical theory of turbulence, to understand and predict it.
“Everything in life is some form of chaos presenting itself to us,” said Irene T. Cheng, one of Cheng’s four children. “In his quiet way, he always believed in that, and he would look at all facets of life through that lens, seeking order where there was none apparent.”
Cheng recently made a gift to name a professorship in engineering in honor of her father, who was a faculty member at Princeton for over four decades. He died of cancer in 2011, at the age of 89.
Pizza has a proud history of fueling late-night lab work, and scientists in Naples—an Italian city famous for its slice—have easy access to some of the world's tastiest take-out. But what inspires engineer Bruno Siciliano is not just that first bite so much as how the dish is made.
“Preparing a pizza involves an extraordinary level of agility and dexterity,” says Siciliano, who directs a robotics research group at the University of Naples Federico II. Stretching a deformable object like a lump of dough requires a precise and gentle touch. It is one of the few things humans can handle, but robots cannot—yet.
Siciliano's team has been developing a robot nimble enough to whip up a pizza pie, from kneading dough to stretching it out, adding ingredients and sliding it into the oven. RoDyMan (short for Robotic Dynamic Manipulation) is a five-year project supported by a €2.5-million grant from the European Research Council.
The Tab. | Web Story. | February 14, 2017.
Being a woman in science isn’t easy. In most situations, you have to deal with everything that comes with being the only woman in the room. In Hidden Figures, a new film based on the true story of NASA’s female “computers”, Taraji P. Henson depicts this perfectly as legendary mathematician Katherine G. Johnson, who was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 2016 for her contributions to the space program.
Katherine G. Johnson’s calculations got us to the moon — but for many women studying and working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), race and gender can be a strong tether. Everyone brings their own assumptions to work. What’s difficult on the daily can be a range of unequal treatment, access, and bias, from micro-aggressions to sexual harassment.
This week, on February 11, the UN Headquarters in NYC hosted the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, with actions to reduce gender bias and increase opportunities, funding, and social support for women who study, research, and work in STEM.
Keystone Crossroads. | Web Story. | February 9, 2017.
Amazon plans to hire 100,000 workers in the next year and a half, with 2,500 of them in New Jersey.
While they are not minimum-wage jobs, the pace of work can be very demanding.
As a business, shipping is like real estate: Location is everything. That's why Amazon has eight fulfillment centers in Pennsylvania, seven in New Jersey, and two in Delaware to deliver to your door as quickly as possible. But John Carr, a spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said the "free" shipping from Amazon comes at a cost.
"Their performance standards are very, very high. When you meet one, they tend to ... raise that speed and standard of how many orders you can pick and pull and pack in a certain amount of time. And Amazon tracks that," Carr said. "I think a lot of these workers get hurt because of the pace that they have to maintain to meet the goals set by Amazon."
Machinists were behind at least one failed drive to unionize the warehouses. Company spokeswoman Lauren Lynch said Amazon gives warehouse workers the exact same benefits as other employees, including health insurance, retirement plans, paid parental leave, and company stock.
The stone monuments of Italy's Certosa di Bologna cemetery have stood for more than two centuries as symbols of peace and eternity. But even stone does not last forever. So Enrico Sassoni, a visiting postdoctoral research associate in Princeton's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is working to protect the marble monuments and even make them stronger.
"In spite of being apparently very durable, marble is actually sensitive to several deterioration processes," Sassoni said. "Environmental temperature variations cause the opening of cracks inside marble, and rain causes dissolution of the carved surface."
With the help of an international team, the Princeton researchers have developed a low-cost and nontoxic treatment that might someday help art preservation and conservation specialists.
How? By applying a thin film of a calcium compound commonly found in bones and teeth. This calcium compound, called hydroxyapatite, is formed by the reaction of a water-based phosphate salt solution and calcite, the mineral that makes up marble. The solution seeps into and binds cracks in the marble's surface.
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | September 28, 2016.
Nancy Rappaport ’82 has devoted her entire career to medicine. A child psychiatrist and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, she’s worked in the Cambridge, Mass., public school system for over two decades. Rappaport says her specialty is “angry teenagers” — and something about her hearty laugh says she doesn’t usually have trouble keeping up.
In August 2015, she was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. With three children of her own — one currently in med school — the longtime runner (13 Boston Marathons and counting) says she was stopped in her tracks.
“That transition — going from a doctor to a patient — has really opened me up,” she says. “For me, it was early-stage breast cancer. For other people, it could be a mild heart attack, or a major depression. Those things are relatively common for doctors to manage, but still, it can feel like earth-shattering news.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | August 24, 2016.
Izzy Kasdin ’14 is a proud local. She knows the rhythms of the town and University: how the campus fills and empties each year, marked by a calendar of beginnings, breaks, Reunions, and departures. She grew up in Princeton.
At 14, Kasdin began volunteering as a docent with the Princeton Historical Society, a non-profit committed to sharing its own sense of the “local.” In January, the organization named Kasdin as its new executive director.
“It was a complete shock,” Kasdin remembers. She says although she didn’t formally apply to the position, her return to Princeton “makes perfect sense.”
It was the Historical Society, after all, that first introduced her to the field of museum curation and preservation. As a teen, her first task was to greet visitors at the door. Then, in 2008, the Historical Society organized an exhibition about political participation and activism. At the closing of the exhibit, Kasdin remembers taking the time to carefully pack up a women’s suffrage banner.
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | July 27, 2016.
Fifteen blocks. That’s how far Puerto Rican spoken word poet Ian Martinez ’01 walks every Wednesday, blasting his pump-up playlist through his headphones.
For Martinez, it’s not just a walk through Seattle. It’s a step away from his “white-collar job” at Microsoft, and a step towards the microphone on the intense-yet-intimate stage at Jai Thai on Broadway, home of the Rain City Poetry Slam.
Though he considers himself to be a “real newcomer and rookie,” Martinez is the current Grand Champion of the Rain City Poetry Slam. He earned that title by winning the Rain City slam’s finals in April, which attracted 250 people.
“Spoken word is a unique art form because it combines storytelling, traditional verse, and wordplay,” Martinez says. “Your energy has to match the room’s, and then take it up a notch. If you deliver, and the room gives you back the love you put into the poem, that’s the greatest feeling an artist can have.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | July 6, 2016.
Glenn H. Shepard Jr. ’87 has a lush and noisy backyard: Toucans squawk, parrots chatter, monkeys howl. He lives in the middle of the jungle. Settled in Belém, at the mouth of the Amazon, Shepard works as a full-time researcher and ethnology curator at the Goeldi Museum in Belém do Pará, Brazil.
Some might say Shepard lives in paradise. Yet as an ethnobotanist — a researcher interested in how cultures use plants, especially as medicine — Shepard’s work focuses on illness, pain, and stress. Every culture, he says, has found ways to heal.
Shepard is a medical anthropologist who has dedicated himself to the Matsigenka, an indigenous people who live in Manú National Park, an isolated natural wonder deep within the Peruvian rain forest. This June, Shepard’s work was featured in National Geographic: “This Park in Peru Is Nature ‘in Its Full Glory’—With Hunters,” by Emma Harris.
The Princeton Hidden Minority Council presented green graduation cords to 33 seniors during a ceremony May 15 for first-generation and low-income students. About 55 people attended the event in the Carl A. Fields Center. Speakers included council co-founders Brittney Watkins ’16 and Dallas Nan ’16 and management consultant Jeremy White ’96, who gave the keynote address.
About 600 people attended the Pan-African Graduation May 29 in Richardson Auditorium. Tennille Haynes, director of the Fields Center, said the event recognized students’ “hardships and their struggles. With sit-ins and protests, our students have been creative in finding ways to be heard.” Seniors Aisha Oxley and Kujegi Camara performed a spoken-word poem about learning to stand up for their identities as students of color.
The final scene of Stephanie Leotsakos ’16’s chamber opera, OMG, opens with a World War II veteran clasping an amulet to his heart, weeping about the memory of his mother, Anna. His daughter, Anna Francesca, walks into the room, distracted by her cellphone. Her Snapchats and emojis are projected onto the screen behind the stage; for a moment, the only music is the sound of screen swipes and texting. Then Anna looks up — and she sees her father crying. “OMG,” she sings, and drops her phone.
OMG, Leotsakos’ senior-thesis opera, premiered April 23 in Taplin Auditorium. The 51-minute production featured eight singers and 10 musicians. The story opens in A.D. 550 near the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy; over six scenes, it moves toward the present day.
“OMG is by far the most complex thing I have ever created,” said Leotsakos, who learned the violin at 3, the piano at 4, and the viola at 9. She started composing two years ago.
Philadelphia Business Journal. Web Story. May 23, 2016.
The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) just celebrated a milestone in its research on fusion energy. After nearly four years of round-the-clock work by 250 people, the PPPL completed a $94 million upgrade to its flagship fusion facility, the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX-U).
Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz donned a white hard hat to tour the NSTX-U's test cell facility and the 85-ton machine at the center.
The NSTX-U is a fusion energy experiment contained in a spherical tokamak reactor. This design is an apple-core shape that requires less energy than traditional tokamaks, which are bulkier (and often more expensive to operate).
Like the sun, the NSTX-U is powered by fusion.
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | May 11, 2016.
War, a new play directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz ’06 and written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins ’06, premiered May 21 in New York at Lincoln Center’s Claire Tow Theater. It’s a story about family battles: Siblings Tate (Chris Myers) and Joanne’s (Rachel Nicks) relationship turns combative when their mother (Charlayne Woodard) has a stroke, and an inheritance is in limbo.
As director and playwright, Blain-Cruz and Jacobs-Jenkins are creative siblings, so to speak: They have supported one another for nearly a decade.
“Branden and I met as classmates,” says Blain-Cruz, a Yale M.F.A. grad who directed War’s world premiere at the Yale Repertory Theater last year. “We’ve each seen almost everything the other has done. And this play — a huge play about family and history — felt like the right piece for us to work on together.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | April 20, 2016.
This spring, Diana Weymar ’91, a textile artist and curator based in Victoria, British Columbia, returned to Princeton. A mother of four, she left the view from her studio desk — a Blue Heron nest, grazing deer, a salty waft settling in, blocks from the ocean — to be the Anne Reeves Artist-in-Residence at the Arts Council of Princeton.
Weymar’s collaborative sewing project, “Interwoven Stories,” seeks to stich the Princeton community together.
“This project asks participants to stitch a page — and some are spending months on it — to then contribute to the community,” Weymar says. This spring, she led sewing workshops and handed out nearly 230 blank “pages” at the Princeton Public Library.
“So often we make something of importance or value to us and then keep or sell it,” she continues. “It’s a risk for some, and second nature to others. Each person has a different reaction to the blank fabric page.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | March 30, 2016.
“Read me, it called then. It still does,” writes Lauret Savoy ’81 in her new memoir, Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape, a finalist for the 2016 PEN Open Book Award and nominee for a Pushcart Prize.
This is how Savoy, a professor of environmental studies and geology at Mount Holyoke College, describes the beloved map she’s carried for years — a large, “creased, taped, and re-taped” roll she’s unfurled on every cross-country trip since Princeton, “since that day in college when Professor Judson handed out copies to his geomorphology class.”
Savoy’s map, as she recalls in Trace’s fifth chapter, “What’s in a Name,” is a hand-drawn and inked copy by “master cartographer-artist” Erwin Raisz. It’s also something she “reads” — which suggests that Savoy sees her map as something more than the shaded, textured terrain of “physiographic landforms”; her map, like Trace, is a text.
The Tab. | Web Story. | February 28, 2016.
Barefaced and Beautiful — what a concept. On Monday, in conjunction with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (#NEDAwareness), the Renfrew Center Foundation is asking women to go “make-up free” for a day — something that might seem like no big deal. But there’s a small catch. The Renfrew Center, which is based in Philadelphia and has treated more than 65,000 women with eating disorders in its 30-year history, is asking women to take one more step: to post a make-up free, “untouched” selfie, and to share it with the world, using the the hashtag #barefacedbeauty.
According to this campaign, girls who decide to go with this “no-makeup look” are making a big statement. But is this a radical idea, really? And is this a new thing?
If this barefaced and beautiful idea sounds familiar, it’s because — well, it kind of is. This is the fifth year of Renfrew’s annual Barefaced and Beautiful campaign. Even former Princeton Prof. Melissa Harris-Perry posted her own selfie sans make-up on MSNBC, in a piece titled “The Naked Truth About Body Image.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | February 24, 2016.
The pair met at Theatre Intime and the Princeton Triangle Club in the fall of 2003.
“Triangle is a pre-professional kind of experience,” said Fornarola before a Thursday night performance of Straight in New York. “It’s as close to what it’s like to do a show here as I imagine most people could have in college.
“You’ve got a creative team. You’ve got investors that you present a show to, and they give you feedback. You’ve got audiences to think about. It’s a big budget show on a big stage. The chance to do that twice a year is second to none.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | January 27, 2016.
Nushelle de Silva ’11 grew up in Sri Lanka. In 1983, before she was born, the country erupted in what would be a 25-year civil war.
“My parents, who were fairly young at the time, saw the horrific violence that erupted on the streets,” she says. Then, she pauses. “I don’t want to provide details that run the risk of flattening what was a very complex conflict.”
Sri Lanka is a country that de Silva’s parents left and returned to — despite the civil war. After a stint in Sydney, Australia, where Nushelle was born, the family moved to Colombo, the southwestern capital, when she was 7.
In 2004, during a ceasefire, de Silva’s K-12 all-girls’ school visited a sister school in Jaffna, the country’s northernmost city. “It had a huge impact on me as a young girl,” she remembers.
Michael Lemonick has marked many seasons in Princeton. He was born and raised here. He’s watched the winter turn to spring year after year. And when he talks about the weather, it’s not small talk.
For three decades, Lemonick has been one of the nation’s eminent science writers, notably for Time Magazine, for which he wrote more than 50 cover stories. In November, he became the opinion editor at Scientific American. And in between, he spent seven years as the senior science writer at Climate Central, the Palmer Square-based nonprofit, nonpartisan research and media organization that employs climate scientists, researchers, fellows, and journalists.
Lemonick knows it’s been a warmer winter. But, he says, that doesn’t mean we should assume this year’s milder temperatures are due to climate change — especially since last year’s winter was quite cold.
“The fact that it’s warmer this year than last year? No. That has nothing to do with climate change,” he says. “The fact that, on average, it’s warmer in every state in the winter than it was in 1900, and that it’s been steadily rising? Yes, that has everything to do with climate change.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | December 16, 2015.
On Dec. 7, in front of a full-house audience of star-struck undergraduates and artsy locals, David Zabel ’88 spoke from a stage that supported the early days of his career — literally. It was at 185 Nassau, the longtime home of the arts at Princeton, that he spent hours and hours at late-night rehearsals and intensive writing workshops.
Once he discovered the theater at Princeton, Zabel said, his other interests (history, for example) quietly faded away. It snapped his future into focus.
“I was interested in a bunch of different things,” he said. “It was just theater that embraced me — earliest and most fully.”
Zabel is now an award-winning television writer, producer, and director. He wrote more than 45 episodes of ER, the medical series on NBC. He was the showrunner of ER for the program’s final five years, and he was also the showrunner and executive producer of Detroit 1-8-7 and Betrayal (both on ABC).
Print + Digital Reporting
Princeton Traveler. | Web Story. | September 30, 2015.
“Adventure is worthwhile in itself."
Amelia Earhart knew that "adventure" is a verb, and that adventuring is itself enough.
As I left Princeton, I steadied myself for my journey: I planned to enroll in an intermediate-level German course at the Freie Universität Berlin, and then use my language skills to facilitate my work as a genealogist’s research assistant, where I translate and transcribe the family histories of German and Polish Jews. Besides awaking 45 minutes late, dousing myself in hot steam (due to an improperly set espresso machine), losing my way and asking for directions (twice), and ripping my new white dress, my first day at my summer course was a success. The afternoon's placement exam set me at one level above my initial plan, and the following four weeks turned into a rigorous schedule of daily homework assignments, weekly writing assignments, two essays, two oral presentations, a large group project, and two exams. The experience was incredibly immersive, as I worked hard to make every word from my mouth be a German one. The course was a challenge, and I knew that it was exactly where I needed to be.
It was not only the six hours in the classroom every weekday that transformed my German. Thanks to the torrent of chatter in the U-Bahn (Berlin's subway), the talkative passerby in smart footwear and leather bags, and the Wurst and Döner vendors shouting on the street, I learned the language through experience, through osmosis. In a city as busy as Berlin, I learned to speak quickly, and firmly, and loudly — through living there, my fluency became stronger, and more confident.
The Princeton Progressive. | Print Story. | April 23, 2007.
"The first problem is failure to see the people," David K. Shipler announces early in his book The Working Poor: Invisible in America (published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2004).
In a move unusual for liberal tomes of its ilk, it actually proposes solutions to the problem of poverty. Shipler fearlessly calls for us to look at what the "working poor" are, give some thought to it, and choose a term that's more appropriate. On his title, Shipler claims: "Working poor should be an oxymoron. Nobody who works hard should be poor in America."
Shipler's message bends backward even before it gets to us: indeed, it is the way it travels that makes our impression hazy. I purchased his packet of pages sold at the Princeton University bookstore for around $13, half a week's worth of lunches at McDonald's. This budget is contingent upon the assumption that "the [working] poor" are frugal and use the Dollar Menu, a move that Shipler wouldn't necessarily make himself. "They don't have milk, but they do have cable," sighs Brenda St. Lawrence, a caseworker featured a few times in Shipler's text. Evidently the poor don't follow Malthusian Theory: instead of scaling up the pyramid, they take the elevator a few floors and complain about their aching legs - or their backs, as Willie, the construction worker husband of Sarah, legitimately discovered. Misplaced priorities plague the young couple: they own a stack of CDs but no clothes for the baby. "We'd put ourselves poor," Willie echoed, "but I know if we were smart people, we could be really well off…I guess it's easier to make life easier by doing something that costs money…It's our own fault. I'm not blaming it on anyone else."
As I flip out a pair of jeans from the dryer, a soggy piece of plastic falls to the floor. The letter "Z" was barely visible in a twisted scrawl and what used to be two "O"s now crumpled into a shape similar to the squared-off rims of a hipster's glasses. This is, or rather was, my membership card to my hometown zoo. Warped and jaded, the card hasn't survived a spin cycle, and replacing it won't be easy.
A quick Google search, and I'm on my way: Catskill Game Farm. "Finally, something that will remind me of home," I thought. In addition to the average farm fare of goats and sheep, though, "exotic" animals are also featured: crocodiles, snakes, zebras, giraffes. "2000 animals in 150 different species," a blurb boasts. But an Aug. 4 article warns that the zoo will soon close.
As an undergraduate, Sally Frank '80 took politics to the street, campaigning door-to-door for Democratic candidates. Her political work also extended to a different sort of Street.
During her sophomore and junior years, Frank translated her personal Bicker experiences to a legal suit citing sex-based discrimination against three of Princeton's eating clubs: Ivy Club, Tiger Inn and University Cottage Club. T.I. was the last to concede, and did so in 1992 only after the U.S. Supreme Court twice refused to hear the case. Cottage and Ivy allowed women to join in 1986 and 1990, respectively.
Frank was also active in more traditional politics. She worked for the College Democrats in the presidential election of '76, supporting Jimmy Carter's campaign. She remembers "going to the Jerry Ford rally and heckling," and even met one of Carter's sons.
We all remember the butterfly ballots, the hanging chads. The "2000 election debacle," as J. Alex Halderman GS calls it, filled the headlines with controversy.
But for this Ph.D. candidate in the computer science department, working with fellow graduate student Ariel Feldman under computer science professor Ed Felten, it inspired a study that might just change the direction of midterm elections this year. The results of this study caused an uproar when they were released in September, and these two students show no signs of slowing down.
"We were motivated by the belief that computer systems that play such an important role in our democracy should be subjected to independent, expert security analysis," Feldman said.
Most of the time, the word "race" is the precursor to an awkward pause. It takes a rare student like Lester Mackey '07 to get beyond that discomfort and delve into the meat of the issue.
As a senior staff member of The Prism, the only magazine on campus focusing on "diversity," Mackey finds himself with a unique forum. Over his three years at Princeton, though, he has come to realize that it's no easy task.
With the tag "Dialogue. Diversity. Difference...," The Prism is re-surging this fall in large part due to Mackey's brainstorming sessions with editor Aita Amaize '07 this past summer.
Mackey, who is black, said he thought about race "not much at all" during his adolescence. Yet, at his public high school in Long Island, Mackey said "segregation by geography" based on "patches of black, Hispanic, and white communities" created a "very interesting mix, both racially and economically."
The move to Princeton, Mackey admits, was a bit of a culture shock.
Imagine Magazine. | Print Story. | John Hopkins University. Volume 12 No. 5, May/June 2005.
One Tuesday night in October 2003, I walked into a downtown Des Moines coffee shop with plans for homework and tea. Settling with an AP Music Theory workbook at a dinky table, my ears caught a shout from a microphone ten feet away.
My head shot up in surprise, and I saw that the sound came from a woman on stage. Her voice bent backward, twisted, then broke into a swift riff of sound. With a visage like a wrung towel, she sighed and contorted her body through gesticulations, her arms winding like twin serpents to the rhythm of a rant. Her voice dropped slowly and slipped back into the coffee shop white noise. With a small nod, she stepped off the stage, returning to the 30 tiny tables filled with spectators — myself now included.
Allured by the novel wordplay, I watched the show with big ears and a goofy grin. An MC took the stage and thanked the poet. When the MC asked the audience to rate the poem, five audience members lifted dry-erase scoreboards into the air, the crowd cheering at three perfect 10s.